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Fall 2002, Volume 20.1

Poetry

 

Mercedes Lawry


Mercedes Lawry has been publishing poetry for almost 30 years. Among the honors she has received are an Artist Trust GAP Grant, a first prize from the Indian Poetry and Fiction Contest through the Sycamore Review, and others. Her work has appeared in
Poetry, Rhino, Natural Bridge, Fine Madness, Seattle Review, Oregon Review, and many more. She has also published fiction and stories for children. Her picture book The Sleepy Babies is forthcoming from Moon Mountain Publishing.

 

In the Crescent of Long Hours

I separate my lives. Both lies
and the forgotten can be found here.
As the wing, even the shadow
of a passing hawk.

I have given up the spectacular view.
In the valleys, the crooked women in black
argue their bundles up and down
the roads with the smoke of sage
in the still air, the yellow dogs.

My terrors are reliable.
As the lines increasing on my skin.
Dust in the corners. Broken sleep.
The wind takes everything away.

We're past the moment I could have
been anything but this.
Darkness comes sooner and sooner
as the holiness of winter brings
silence, the illusion of eternal,
a hand trailing slowly in the blue stream.

 

Death Has No Business

Under a coil of blue sky
the benevolent death
of a sick child cracks
hearts and the whole map
of a number of lives.
Brimming cups of tears
and vinegar pass from hand
to hand. The stark face of it,
the absence, like a small, cold
stone, so still, so everlasting.

The gangrene of sorrow begins,
rotting hope, sweet anticipations,
the memory of hand on lucent skin,
the feathered breaths. There is nothing
beyond this, no safety in sleep.
Pain travels every bone, every vein,
sinks into every muscle.
It tastes like ash. It fills them all
with stinking lead.

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